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Let's put it this way. Having in mind that the majority of Bulgarians have just a basic idea of the EU, I am not comfortable with the fact that their opinion could be considered reliable, or that of any other populace. You are a Bulgarian, just like me, and I have no doubt that you remember the notorious survey conducted a couple of years ago following the start of the negotiation process for accession to the EU. The poll clearly illustrated that approximately only twenty percent of the Bulgarian population had a clear vision of the EU. Most of them just said that they want to be EU members. Asked why, the majority simply stated "Because it is good." And if you ask them why it is good, I am positive they would not have an answer. Because, let's face it. People, who are not politically aware, as they should be in this case, just follow the crowd and their opinion is not trustworthy, because it is easily swayed. This is also called "manipulation" which, by the way, is a powerful instrument often used by political elites for the sake of power. And this is also true for any other country and its population. A person, or a group of people, who does not have an expertise in a certain field should not be allowed to make decisions in this area.  

As to the democratic bla bla, come on. Such speculations could lead, and have led throughout human history, to demonstrations, riots, and much worse situations. Power is for the powerful, educated, and shrewd guys. The others are the work force. Sounds cynical? But realistic! From the dawn of human civilization, there has been differentiation in society, social classes, and every person knew his or her place. Nowadays, it is just not so obvious, but it is still out there. And the reason that politicians throw dust in the eyes of the general public, is namely because people like you really think that they can make a difference.

Sad, but true.

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:21:36 PM EST
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And do you think most EU citizens have a better idea of what the EU is about?

A big part of the reason why I would have voted 'no' to the constitution was the way that the treaty was presented to "the populace". They treated people like children. There was no debate. The "constitution" was drafted as a way for the european political class to save face, and they called it a "constitution" to try to dupe people into identifying with it.

But the solution is obviously not to decide that an informed minority should make all decisions, but to try and inform the majority. Because, who decides who is "informed" and "worthy of a share in decision-making"? That's a decision, too.

Hence democracy, which is imperfect but better than most alternatives.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:29:23 PM EST
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I perfectly agree that the educated minority should inform the majority. And this was also my point in a comment that I recently posted as a response to a diary called "The essence of Fundamentalism," that democracy is imperfect, but it is still the best form of government so far, that political and social think tanks have come up with. The ignorance of the people about political issues is one of its weaknesses.
But, still, people are not aware. And it is not their fault, but is still the reality. And as soon as they get informed and politically sensitive, I would welcome the idea that they take part in the decision-making process.

You don't call a lawyer, when you need a plumber, right? This is my point. People that does not have knowledge in a certain domain, should not be allowed to perform its tasks.

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:55:49 PM EST
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And as soon as they get informed and politically sensitive, I would welcome the idea that they take part in the decision-making process.

The decisions made by government affect them.  They, therefore, deserve the right to have a say in policy discussions.

You don't call a lawyer, when you need a plumber, right?

This is the same argument Plato made against (direct) democracy.  What he failed, miserably, to understand was that the elitist model is far more dangerous than the democratic model.  Oil companies know more about oil than I do, but does that mean they should have the right to make the decisions instead of me?  No.  You seem to think that politicians enjoy some kind of "skill" that the rest of us lack.  They don't.  They're people who look out for themselves by voting for proposals that will get them reelected.

Lawyers and plumbers study the proper workings of their crafts for years.  Politicians do not.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:36:16 PM EST
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Mr. Jones, it seems to me that you are countering every word I say. Ok, that is your prerogative as a member of this online community. However, objecting a point that is not there is what you failed, miserably, to understand. And who says that the elitist model is more dangerous than the democratic model? You?

And, yes, it is true that oil companies that know more about oil than you and I do, would make the decisions about their companies. If you are so positive, why do not you go to an oil company's CEO and propose that you make the decisions for today's work load instead of him and his or her associates. I am entirely sure they will let you do so. Just, do not forget to write back and share your implications.

True, politicians do not know all the rules of the game when they enter office. They learn step by step, as plumbers and lawyers do, as every single person does. What is more, politics is not mathematics, it is not an exact science. It is about mindset, rational thinking, proper assessment and critical estimation,and many other mental qualities that you do not seem to understand.

It seems to me that you despite politicians. If so, I do not blame you for calling them unskilled. In your opinion, politicians look only for themselves, and vote for whatever it is, just to get reelected. Well, Mr. Jones, I would like to assure you that there is still living the idea of being "politically correct." No doubt, politics is dirty. But what is not dirty in our contemporary  world? With the same ease you stigmatize and vilify politicians, you might as well slander any other social group. So, go ahead, which is next? The plumbers, maybe?

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 08:23:56 PM EST
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objecting a point that is not there is what you failed, miserably, to understand

That happens often in on-line (and not just on-line) discussions. It also happens that you meet on people who don't accept your most cherished, most basic ideas about the world. No need to take offence. (I write this as someone with rather strong disagreements with Drew, though probably entirely in other fields than you.)

yes, it is true that oil companies that know more about oil than you and I do, would make the decisions about their companies.

Methinks Drew was more thinking about energy policy and regulations, things presently outside of the decisionmaking power of those companies, and in the control of nominally democratic-controlled authorities and legislatives. (I.e., you object to something that wasn't there too.) Which is quite right so: oil companies want to maximise their profit, not minimise a country's energy dependence or awoid Peak Oil or guard your health safety.

They learn step by step, as plumbers and lawyers do, as every single person does. They learn step by step, as plumbers and lawyers do, as every single person does. What is more, politics is not mathematics, it is not an exact science. It is about mindset, rational thinking, proper assessment and critical estimation

Here I disagree with both of you. Drew assumes no special skill is assumed, you assume that special skill is all benevolent. I contend there is skill involved, unfortunately it is not the skill to get the best solutions for all but the skill to gain and retain power. There is a selection process. The best we can do is setting the selection criteria - i.e., let politicians advance on the basis of their good solutions to common problems.

Unfortunately, for the very same reason you don't trust democratic opinion, you shouldn't trust the elite model either: those elites are selected by a similarly 'dumb' population. (In a democracy, we are governed by those we deserve.)

It seems to me that you despite politicians.

Well... how old are you? :-) </snark, no need to be offended>

Well, Mr. Jones, I would like to assure you that there is still living the idea of being "politically correct."

I'm not sure you are using "politically correct" in the sense normally used in the English language. Did you mean it as 'doing the correct thing politically'? ('political correctness' in English means to use euphemisms used to awoid normal words that carry an offensive ring, say "black" instead of "negroe" or "mentally ill" instead of "crazy", or even to cleanse out sensitive material from works of art - say a film adaptation of Alexander The Great's life with a love story but without his homosexual relationships.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:20:33 AM EST
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Perfect.

Here I disagree with both of you. Drew assumes no special skill is assumed, you assume that special skill is all benevolent. I contend there is skill involved, unfortunately it is not the skill to get the best solutions for all but the skill to gain and retain power. There is a selection process. The best we can do is setting the selection criteria - i.e., let politicians advance on the basis of their good solutions to common problems.

Well, okay.  I'd like to change my vote to DoDo's interpretation. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:52:48 AM EST
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By the way, verchenceto, this is a blog.  Drop the "Mr. Jones" formalspeak. :)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:55:52 AM EST
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the best form of government so far, that political and social think tanks have come up with.
Democracy was not invented in a think-tank.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:03:25 AM EST
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And it would be more correct to call it the least awful form of government, not the best.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:05:30 AM EST
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It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried - Winston Churchill
by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:44:14 AM EST
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One of the truly great Churchill quotes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:54:31 AM EST
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People that does not have knowledge in a certain domain, should not be allowed to perform its tasks.
Please describe the qualifications you think people need in order to "be allowed to" get involved in societal decision making.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 06:07:50 AM EST
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OK, on one hand you are saying that we should delegate the power to make important decisons to politicians and on the other you're blaming them for throwing dust in our eyes. Do you also believe that politicians are the only ones who have the ultimate knowledge? I don't think so, and it is not correct to underestimate the qualities and the capability to make judgement of all the rest. Also, how do you judge people's expertise? In my opinion, things are not black and white as we all wish they were.
About power: I think it is the common people who give the power to the "shrewd guys", of course not always to the right ones, but still I do believe that we must not underestimate their importance as an element of a society. And I still do believe in the ideas of democracy. You and me and our generation, unlike our parents, have been brought up in the spirit of democracy.

I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde
by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 04:54:48 PM EST
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It is very important to make this clear. I do not BLAME politicians for throwing dust in the eyes of people. I simply state, that they do so. On the contrary, I justify them because this is the way it has to be done. This is how politics is conducted. The concept of transparency is another made up principle, used by politicians. Nobody of us knows what is going on there, and how politicians make decisions. And we would never know the real truth. We are permitted to know as much as they let us know.

I am not a politicians' poodle, and my parents or close relatives are not politicians. In fact, I do think that some of them do not deserve to be in office. But not because they are not educated, but because of other reasons. And this was my whole point. As I responded to another comment a minute ago, people that do not have knowledge in a certain domain should not be allowed to make decisions that concern it. Yes, politicians are not perfect most of the time, but still they are the people that are close to the issues discussed and have more knowledge than us to deliberate on those issues. And I talk about the best possible decision, not about the perfect one.
Yes, it is the common people that give the power to the shrewd guys, namely because those, the same common people, cannot earn this power for themselves. Being incapable of doing so, they have to elect someone who can. This is why there are leaders in any kind of group. I certainly do not underestimate the importance of the common people as an element of a society. I am also one of them. Everything that I wanted to state was that there are different people for different positions in society.

As I responded to another guy's comment to this diary: You do not call a lawyer, if you need a plumber, right?

by verchenceto (veronique@mail.bg) on Mon Feb 20th, 2006 at 05:25:03 PM EST
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And I talk about the best possible decision, not about the perfect one.

Best for whom?

You confuse expertise with interest when looking at the motivations behind political decisions. Also, you confuse expertise with ability to influence people and get support when looking at what makes a politician politician.

The elite of a democracy is not necessarily meritocracy, and even less so in an oligarchy.

Also, history saw too many assassinations, coups, conquests, civil wars, slave or peasant revolts and revolutions for your nice vision of "everyone knowing their place" to having been a historical truth.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:50:24 AM EST
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Power is for the powerful, educated, and shrewd guys. The others are the work force. Sounds cynical? But realistic! From the dawn of human civilization, there has been differentiation in society, social classes, and every person knew his or her place.

Sir, you just gave your opponents a new argument to keep your country out of the EU: complete lack of education in the ways of democracy.

I sincerely hope you are not a representative sample of the bulgarian "elite", because in that case, we have enough trolls in the EU as it is, equally and widely represented in all countries.

by toyg (g.lacava@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:41:47 AM EST
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Power is for the powerful
What is the source of power? How is it exercised? How do you give power to those the powerful, since they already have it? How did they get to being powerful in the first place? Where they born powerful?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 07:51:47 AM EST
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Ok I am replying to this as a response to both of your posts. First of all, it is clear that both countries--namely France and Netherlands--use referendums to bring the public closer to the political and/economic decision-making process. This is to say that they respect the ones who brought them to power. Furthermore, lets not forget that EU and every institutional--governmental or not--is made to serve the people and to benefit the people. Now, I know that you may feel reluctant to believe or accept the fact that some people, who in fact have nothing to do directly with your country, have a say in Bulgaria's future. It's a normal feeling, but I don't think you should be so tacky into concluding that nobody should care about their opinion. When u think about it, when Bulgaria enters EU a lot of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) founding will go to the new entering countries, and Bulgaria will be one of the beneficiaries to the expense of France especially. Now, how do you think will the French people react to Bulgarians? After all, why should the Bulgarians have a say in the French's life. As u can see--or I hope you do--the EU has proven to be a very interactive union and since we are all trying to be part of it, we have to accept that is the people who have the right to talk, as they are the ones directly affected by the decisions taken. The European constitution failed because it was initially disapproved by the French and the Dutch, and I think that people have the right to ask for what they think will bring a better future for them. What politicians can do at this point, is to make the public understand that the entrance of new countries will not threaten the present balance in the lives of the already member-states, and that new entrances should not be seen as the reason for future failure. The EU is fairly new in its existence and all the countries are facing identity and sovereignty problems, once the concept of the UNION is accepted and countries as well as people give in to that concept things may have a chance to change. But of course this cannot be achieved if, still at this point, there are people who do not accept the interdependence between states.
by SdRaWkCaB on Tue Feb 21st, 2006 at 08:51:37 AM EST
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